Six Years Later; Building a Connected Civil Society

Guest Post by TechSoup Global Co-CEO Rebecca Masisak

2009 TechSoup Partner NGO Summit 2

Group photo from the 2009 TechSoup Partner Summit

Tomorrow, TechSoup Global will convene its partners from around the world on Microsoft’s campus in Silicon Valley. More than 200 people who have contributed to moving TechSoup Global’s mission forward -- foundations, corporations, organizers, and NGOs -- will create new opportunities to leverage this powerful community to create far-reaching change. To date, the impact of our global network has been profound – through the generosity of our corporate donors our efforts have resulted in more than $2 billion in IT savings to the nonprofit sector worldwide. After 24 years serving the sector, TechSoup Global has become a leading social enterprise operating sustainably, at significant scale.

How did we get here? Back in 2005, when our partners at Microsoft, Akhtar Badshah and Jane Meseck, started talking to me about expanding TechSoup Global’s product philanthropy program internationally, it was clear that Microsoft envisioned two things: to build a worldwide donation program that could be used by many technology donors, not just by Microsoft; and to build local capacity and relevance.

It wasn’t enough, we agreed, to fly in and donate software and fly out again. We had to build locally relevant, locally sustainable resources. NGOs and libraries needed to learn from one another about how to incorporate technology into their work.

This resonated with the conversations we were also having with Cisco. Both of these technology leaders were committed not only to expanding their own product philanthropy but also to supporting a global platform that delivered donations from a broad range of corporate donors.

Microsoft and Cisco's foresight helped us design an expansion strategy that relied on partnering with independent NGOs. These partners would collect an administrative fee for verifying the eligibility of recipients and distributing the donations. This administrative fee would create a critical revenue stream and allow the program to support itself and be reinvested in building localized NGO technology.

Today, our network consists of 35 partner NGOs serving 36 countries, a global reach that would not have been possible without Microsoft’s commitment. Microsoft provided the necessary philanthropic leadership, cash grants and technical support to get us where we are today. When we gather in Silicon Valley this week, the question will not be how do we get technology knowledge and resources in to the field? But, what now? Our topics will range from cloud computing to disaster relief, from assistive technologies to translation. You can follow the conversation to using the hashtag #TSG2011, and twitter handles @msftcitizenship, and @techsoup . Akhtar, Jane and I will all be there, exploring the opportunities for a connected civil society and benefiting from the perspectives and guidance of a group of amazing people working to change the world.


masisak high resRebecca Masisak, Co-CEO, TechSoup Global
Rebecca Masisak joined TechSoup Global in 2001 to launch and chart the growth of TechSoup Global's technology product donation program and social enterprise. After successfully establishing the program in North America (, Ms. Masisak developed an international expansion model, which today serves an international NGO audience in 33 countries. Under Ms. Masisak’s leadership, TechSoup Global has distributed nearly 6.3 million software and hardware product donations, and enabled recipients to save more than US$1.8 billion for direct services. As co-CEO, Ms. Masisak has been instrumental in building TechSoup Global’s capacity and reach to support the entire portfolio of TechSoup Global’s programs for bringing products, information, human capacity, and resources to the communities who need them most.

Ms. Masisak speaks about social enterprise and global networks and was awarded the Full Circle Fund’s prestigious Full Impact Award in Technology. She is a member of the Social Enterprise Institute’s San Francisco Forum for Social Enterprise leaders, and she volunteers for the nonprofit organization S.A.G.E. (Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship). Ms. Masisak holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.


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Comments (1)

  1. JD Lasica says:

    Fantastic summary, Rebecca. I'm looking forward to attending the Summit tomorrow and seeing some of these impressive connections first hand.

    JD Lasica

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